GB breweries Badger State, Stillmank add hardware to double production capabilities

Two new fermentation tanks are seen inside Badger State Brewing Company in Green Bay, Wis. on Oct. 1, 2015 (WLUK/Tim Flanigan)

The rich liquid that will become beer is working hard at the job inside the fermentation tanks. Though the canning line is quiet on this day, that doesn't mean nothing's going on at Stillmank Brewing Company.

"To get to 3,700 barrels is unrealistic for this year," said owner Brad Stillmank. "We know we now have the capacity to do it, but it will be nice and comfortable knowing that we don't have to be running it, full-tilt, all the time, to meet all the wholesaler orders that are coming in right now."

Two brand new 90-barrel tanks were installed last weekend (one barrel is two half-kegs of beer). It was only back in August 2014 that beer started flowing from the renovated building supply warehouse on Henry Street on the city's east side.

From a business that was brewed up with just one beer - Wisco Disco - it has now fermented into eight offerings, with more in the works.

"To double, or more than double capacity after our first year in the facility is definitely something that's kind of taken us aback a little bit," said Stillmank. "These are the things that keep you up at night, and make you wonder, 'how are we going to do this tomorrow, again?' but that's why it's exciting and that's what we really enjoy."

On the other side of town, it's a similar story for Badger State Brewing Company.

"Right now, not enough tanks, not enough time in the day to make beer for everyone," said Andrew Fabry, one of the three business partners behind the business.

It too recently installed two more tanks to support the demands at its facility on Tony Canadeo Run near Lambeau Field. Starting small in late 20-13, it now has three canned beers and eight draft only beers for distribution. Fabry says once the tanks are online and production is ramped up, production will increase from about 1,500 barrels of beer a year to about 3,000.

"It keeps the growth really organic, is the term that I always like to use, so I'm not worried about it," said Fabry. "We're just excited that the opportunity is there."

Brewing beer is a lot of hard work - and is an expensive task. But through it all, both beer makers say there are times that the brewing business shows them why they make the stuff in the first place.

"It's a nice balance," said Fabry. "It really kind of brings you back down to earth pretty quickly, and at the end of the day, you really realize this is why we did that."

"The business side of this reminds you a lot that as much as you want to make beers that you enjoy drinking," explained Stillmank, "you're really making beers that your customers want to drink, first."

Both Stillmank and Fabry hope to have their additional tanks online within the week. But say it will likely take a year to reach full production capacity.

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